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War carrier pigeons on display

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Statement by the Minister for the Interior, The Hon. Gordon -------- Freeth

A new batch of exhibits that has recently been added to

the Canberra War Memorial looks strangely out of place among the

surrounding relics and scenes of war.

But the nine Australian carrier pigeons, lifelike in death,

played important roles in shortening the dark years of World

War II.

Two of the birds donated to the Memorial by their Australian

owners, were awarded the Dickin Medal - the animal’s. V. C, - for

their work.

The Minister for the Interior, Mr. Freeth, said it was

fitting that the pigeons should take their place in the Memorial,

Their natural abilities had on many occasions been the cause of

saving servicemen in dangerous and often seemingly hopeless


One of the medal winners carried a message on July 12, 1945,

a distance of 40 miles through a tropical storm from a distressed

vessel off the New Guinea coast. As a result of the pigeon's

flight, the vessel, valuable stores, ammunition and equipment

were salvaged before falling into enemy hands.

The journey, which took 50 minutes, was one of 23 operational

flights by this bird, which flew a total of more than 1000 war

service miles.

The second pigeon carried a message on April 5 $ 1944,

through heavy fire·, bringing relief to a patrol surrounded and

being attacked by the enemy and without any other means of

communication. The message was carried a distance of nearly

30 miles in 47 minutes.

Captions in the Memorial also list flights of valour

performed by the other birds.

An interesting addition to the Australian birds is a

Japanese pigeon captured at Tor River, near Wadki, New Guinea,

on May 26, 1944, by United States engineers. .

$ The Dickin Medal ribbon for gallantry is green, brown and blue - green for the grass the animals walk on, brown for the

mud and dirt they work in, and blue for the sky the carrier

pigeons fly through. The two pigeons mentioned above were the

first to receive the award in the South-West Pacific. ·

Ca n b e r r a

September 22. 1959 - P.M.